This course blends rigorous mock trial experiences with class discussion of trial techniques, strategy, and ethics. Students directly participate in a series of trial practice problems as witnesses and attorneys. Some sections use videotape as an aid to the learning process. Different instructors in this course emphasize different problems, including jury selection, motions and discovery practices, opening statements, direct and cross examination, handling exhibits, expert testimony, making and opposing objections, and closing arguments. The course is designed especially for students who wish to obtain some trial experience but lack the time to enroll in a regular litigation clinic. Note: Some sections of this course may require extended classes or extra meetings outside of class to accommodate a mock trial.
In this practice-oriented course, students try three civil cases. Students act and are treated as counsel, and work with motions in limine, jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, demonstrative evidence, and closing arguments. The course emphasizes jury persuasion, exhibits, courtroom tactics and demeanor, and adapting to trial judges of varying demeanors. Students not assigned as trial counsel serve as witnesses and jurors. Proceedings are conducted pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence.
Students are assigned to teams, but a student's final grade will be based upon that individual's presence, punctuality, preparation, participation, and performance, with emphasis upon the progress observed throughout the semester. Students are encouraged to set and share personal goals to facilitate assessments throughout the semester. Assessments are necessarily subjective, with preparation, participation, performance, and progress weighted most heavily. Lack of participation is the greatest detriment to a “good” grade, because it makes preparation and progress difficult to perceive. Students may be given mid-semester feedback upon request.
This Section is for the student who (a) wants to experience trial practice in a true-life setting; (b) is a self-starter wanting to learn actively, through doing, not passively, through “how to” lectures; (c) is able to stay in role, as a lawyer or witness, and to hold questions or comments until the trial exercise has completed; (d) is able to give and receive constructive criticism; and (e) understands the value of learning through a group’s exchange of ideas.